Dr. Sanjay Guptasays,“The act of experiencing something new – or even doing something that’s typical for you, but in a different way – can all generate these new brain cells.”
In Gupta’s recent book, Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age, he maintains that your ability to process, understand, and apply knowledge “can actually get sharper, can get better as you get older… It is sort of the use it or lose it phenomenon when it comes to the brain.”
He maintains that new and different activities stimulate your brain – much more than repeating the same things over again. Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. He’s also CNN’s chief medical correspondent.
I’m following this advice as I write poetry now – a relatively new skill for me. Plus, I love the new emphasis on poetry that National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman provided. She became an overnight sensation after her performance at President Joe Biden’s inauguration and during her presentation at the Super Bowl.
A couple of years ago, I began penning poetry. My life was moving in new directions, and I wanted to express myself differently than with the prose style approach I mainly used before. I enjoyed reading poetry, so I decided to try writing poems, myself.
I enrolled in a local college lifelong-learning course focused on “enjoying and writing poetry.” Taught by a former high-school English teacher, those classes for novice poets helped me to start composing verses.
There I learned about different poetic devices to express my ideas and emotions through sound, rhythm, rhyming, repetition, comparisons, exaggeration, imagery, alliteration, allusion, personification, and consonance.
We practiced several poetic styles including free verse, ballads, sonnets, haiku, acrostics, shape poems, list poems, and rhupunts (a Welsh verse form with rigid rules). This all certainly benefited my cognitive health, as I stretched my brain. Excellent side effect!
I’ve continued with several poetry classes, including free online courses. More recently I joined a virtual live-stream poetry reading gathering. I look forward to when I can attend in-person poetry readings at bookstores and café open mic nights after the pandemic subsides.
Indeed, I authored several poems with change as a theme over this past year. That helped me manage shifts in my Covid-19 lifestyle, focusing on what matters most.
Below are two poems I wrote in a simple haiku style, each with just three lines. Although there are different ways to write a haiku, generally the first line has five syllables. Second line adds seven syllables. The final line has five. There’s no special rhyming scheme involved. It’s a fun, quick way to create a poem. I encourage you to try writing a poem, using this easy haiku style.
How have you challenged your brain lately? Have you tried writing poems? Do you think you can make poetry part of your legacy? Please share your thoughts – and poems! – below.
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